For the most part, the discussion of Martian custom and philosophy is limited to vague similes and intimations of the incompatibility between Martian thought and Earthling. Heinlein, however, lays the groundwork for the exploration of one significant Martian concept with the introduction of the Martian word "grok." This is the only Martian word, a verb, which appears in the novel. "Grok" begins to appear, without explanation, in descriptions of Smith's thought processes, and though we may first be confused by it, Heinlein uses it often enough that we may start to comprehend it in context. At its most basic level, we can see that to grok something means to understand it deeply. By giving us a word that is alien but makes sense in context, Heinlein helps to simulate a Martian mindset for us.

Chapter VIII concludes with a shocking display of Smith's powers that throws a wild card element into the equation of suspense. We have seen before that Smith has abilities that Earthbound human beings do not, such as willfully slowing his bodily processes to a stand-still. Furthermore, it is implied that he has some psychic abilities, such as when he "senses" from the leaves of grass that is their purpose is to be walked upon. But when he makes Berquist and the police officer literally disappear, Smith demonstrates that he has what could be considered super powers. The ability to psychically make one's enemies disappear would seem to make Smith a much more formidable individual than anyone could have known. Because we do not understand Smith's powers, and Smith's motivations are undefined, we cannot know how these powers will come into play in the struggle to come.


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